The Top Ten Greatest American Sellers in Professional Wrestling
Selling is a main key element in being able to get yourself and a match over. It’s another way to relate to the fans.
Selling is simple to understand; all it is pretending to make something look real. It’s easier said then done, and that’s why very few have perfected it.
But here’s a list on my top sellers of all time.
Number 10. Mick Foley
This tenth spot could’ve gone to so many guys, but since Foley was so great at being sympathetic as a face and vicious as a heel. I had to give it to him.
Mick Foley won me over at Mindgames 1996. Everyone looked at him as a hardcore junky, but he proved once and for all, he could work a match.
Foley’s selling in the match was phenomenal. He sold two body parts better than most wrestlers sell one.
Foley’s expressions and verbal screams made him a great seller as well, so I had to put him on the list, whether people agree or not.
Number 9. Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit could take amazing bumps, but he could also sell too. His selling was just as good as anyone else I’ve seen in this modern-era.
Check out his performance at MITB 21 if you don’t believe me. The man could realistically sell anything where you thought he was literally hurt.
His bumps and selling use to scare me sometimes because I would really think he was hurt.
Number 8. Jerry Lawler
Yeah, so what… he hulked up as a face, but nobody can deny his hulking up was much more realistic than Hogan’s. Lawler use to hulk up because of the fans feeding him electricity through his veins.
His selling prior to the hulking up was unparallel to any wrestler I’ve ever seen. As a babyface, he would have people crying because they thought he was in danger of risking his life.
He could get so much heat on a heel; they would have to escort them out of a building if Lawler didn’t overcome the odds.
Number 7. Tully Blanchard
Underrated is a proper word to describe Tully’s selling. Realistic would be another word that could describe Tully’s selling too.
If you don’t believe me, watch Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard’s I quit match and tell me if you saw that outside a professional wrestling ring, you wouldn’t think that match wasn’t a fight with two guys that wanted to kill each other.
The finish of that match is simply amazing, where Tully is screaming as TA is sticking the wood piece into his forehead.
Number 6. Ted DiBiase
Ted DiBiase could make any babyface look good with his heel selling on a comeback. The way he would take bumps and sell them realistically and painfully was a site to see.
Many heels oversell comebacks to make the face look good, but DiBiase was able to make the face look good, and not oversell. He was a specimen of how to sell as a heel.
Number 5. Terry Funk
Another wrestler you cannot mention. Funk was brilliant at making every match seem like a shoot.
He was stiff, but he could take the beating too. What made him a great seller were his conceivable facial expressions. His face could tell a story on its own, to the point where he had to be in pain.
He was almost too believable at times, if it was possible to be too believable.
Number 4. Macho Man Randy Savage
Seriously, how could you not mention Savage in a list like this? The man was great at selling anything.
The way Savage would be able to sell a leg, limp around the ring, AND still be able to work out an entertaining match was remarkable. Most wrestlers these days sell and move past it once they go into transition mode, but Savage intertwined the injury he was selling into the context of the story in the match.
Very few can do that period, but nobody did it better than Savage. His selling went past the leg, though.
Savage was a great actor; a perfect example would be when Jake’s snake bit him. His selling was so convincing and believable; it made people cry in the audience because they thought he was in serious peril.
Number 3. Bret Hart
Bret Hart was a great seller mostly because of his father, Stu Hart, training him the proper fundamentals upon how to make a match look legitimate. Bret Hart used the fundamentals of selling from his dad and picked them up as time went on his career.
Bret Hart morphed into one of the best sellers over time. Bret had a great mind for the business, and unlike many great sellers who called matches in the ring, Bret Hart could play out a match in his head exactly how it would go.
Number 2. Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat is possibly the greatest ultimate underdog babyface ever, making Rey Mysterio in WWE look like b-rate and John Cena f-rate. His selling was fantastic because he was so convincing in everything he did.
He sold everything like it was real, which is what selling is all about, making it look real. It’s not rocket science on paper; it’s much harder than it looks, but Steamboat made it look so natural.
Steamboat wasn’t a great talker or charismatic wrestler, but what got him over was how amazingly sympathetic he came across the fans. No matter what match you watched, you always thought Steamboat was finished, but he’d rally back and the crowds would go ape crazy.
Steamboat’s other forte in his selling was his hope-spots. His timing for his hope-spots were perfectly placed, where he would tell a story to the audience, saying nonverbally, I might be losing the match thus far, but I am not completely out yet.
Number 1. Ray Stevens
The crippler was an ironic name for Stevens because his selling looked like he was crippling, with his facial expressions, body language, and gruesome actions.
He sold the vicious antagonist better than any wrestler did. Sadly, I haven’t seen a lot of his work due to the rarity of it, but from what I’ve seen, the man was a legend at selling beatings.